Updated: May 27
Did you know that back in 2016, more than 400,000 cats and dogs entered Florida animal shelters? There are more than 200 million stray dogs worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. While most of us could never imagine abandoning our pets, the reality is, at any point you could come across a stray dog. Whether they’re roaming around in your neighborhood or taking shelter on the side of a road, it’s very important to know what to do if you come across a stray dog.
The first thing you should do if you find a stray dog is to capture and contain it. Do your best to take caution here, as you can never be sure what type of state a distressed stray is in. Always take a slow and gentle approach with a calm tone of voice. The best thing to do here is to lure in the dog with some food and build a ground of trust. If you notice the dog is acting aggressively or is not taking kindly to you, call your local animal control, a shelter, or an emergency vet clinic.
The next best step you can take is checking for an ID tag. If they do have an ID tag, great! Chances are, the owner is aware that their dog is missing and they’ll be waiting for a call. If you’re able to get in contact with them immediately, you may be able to meet up with the owner quickly and return the dog to their custody. If not, you can make the choice to take the dog home until the owner gets back in touch with you. If you are not willing to hold on to the dog, you can take them to your local animal shelter or call them to pick up the dog. No matter what course of action you decide here, we advise filing a found dog report with your local animal shelter in case the owner contacts them first.
Check for Microchip
If the dog doesn’t have an ID tag, you have some options. Take them to your local animal shelter or vet, or contact animal control to pick them up and take them to the shelter instead. At the shelter, they will be able to scan the dog for a microchip. If microchipped, the shelter will be able to access the owners’ contact information and get in touch with them. If they are not microchipped, you will need to make a decision to leave them at the shelter or take them home. If you decide to take them along with you, be sure to file a found dog report with the shelter.
The old fashioned way to get the word out about a lost/found dog is with fliers. Take photos of the dog, post it on your flyer, and hang them around the area where the dog was found. Another effective method is to join relevant Facebook groups and post pictures and information in there. For example, you could find a Facebook group for the city that the dog was found or an Orlando dog owners group. NextDoor is also a great option for online posting, as many neighbors will recognize dogs from the neighborhood and owners may post about their lost pet.
If You Take Them Home...
If you make the choice to take the dog home with you, make sure to protect any other pets you may have by checking for fleas and taking them to the vet for a check up. Watch the behavior of the dog around pets and family members alike to ensure no aggressive actions take place. Also, keep in mind that they may have resource-guarding issues, so keep an extra eye out around feeding time or play time.
We hope these steps equip you with knowledge to properly take care of a stray. With the overpopulation of dogs, it is very likely to happen to you or someone you know. The top priority is to make the best decisions you can based on the situation and keep yourself safe!
This post was written by Kelsey Kryger.